Lap dance club issues not about freedom of expression

by Lisa Leithauser

SOS Oregon is working to end the blight of adult entertainment businesses in Portland metropolitan neighborhoods – not because of moral objections, but because of the problems they are causing to neighboring businesses and area residents. Problems like asking neighbors’ teenage daughters for lap dances, speeding through neighborhoods, parking illegally and having sex in illegally parked vehicles, wandering drunkenly into a neighbor’s house, urinating on neighboring property, leaving garbage including drug paraphernalia and pornographic material on neighbors’ properties, harassing neighbors on their way to the bus stop, harassing other businesses’ customers and employees, etc.

While I appreciate a robust discussion of political philosophy, and certainly sympathize with the idea of less government, we don’t live in a theoretical world.  Some government regulation is necessary to balance profit motives with societal standards of fairness.  In some instances, government regulation impedes both.  In other instances, government regulation favors one over the other, or worse, favors one business owner over another.  This is the case in regards to Oregon’s adult club industry with owners chanting the “freedom of expression” mantra as an excuse to violate codes followed by every other business in the state.

Freedom of expression is a valid concern, but everyone’s freedoms need to be balanced, especially when driven by profits.  A lap dance club owner crying “Freedom of expression” is especially disingenuous when this “freedom” is driven solely by the club owner’s focus on his own profits at the expense of his workers and neighboring businesses and residents.  Such an owner needs to be treated fairly and required to follow the same rules and regulations as every other business.  SOS Oregon is siding with one business over another – one legally operating business over one not operating legally, affecting the profits of surrounding businesses, and getting away with it by shrouding itself in a duplicitous “freedom of expression” blanket.

SOS Oregon is non-partisan, non-profit, and individual participants are decidedly diverse in political opinion.  If you have not already, join me at a Stand-in where we can debate the issue of freedom versus fairness in greater detail.

SOS Oregon is comprised of residents from Portland metropolitan neighborhoods who have formed a coalition to coordinate working with advocacy groups and neighborhood businesses to end the proliferation of unregulated adult entertainment businesses in neighborhoods.


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  • Anonymous

    The answer to your problem is clearly delineated in your post. Asking daughters for lap dances…illegal, solicitation. Speeding through neighborhoods, illegal violation of basic rule. Parking illegally, obvious. Having sex in illegally parked vehicles, again obvious. Wandering drunkenly into a neighbor’s house, drunk and disorderly. Urinating on neighbor’s property, leaving garbage on neighbor’s property. harassing neighbors and other business owners…ALL ILLEGAL. 

    There’s your answer. It is very clear. Enforce the existing law and quit finding excuses for more government.

    • wnd

      Quite agree.  Enforcement of existing laws, not deleterious knee jerk modifications – too, culling back superfluous Oregon legislative annual sessions costing taxpayers and common sense more than they’re worth. 

    • goodneighbor

      Yes, and if you read carefully, that’s SOS Oregon is trying to do – get laws to be enforced fairly on all businesses. As it is, it’s very difficult to get law enforcement and agencies to ENFORCE codes and laws already in place.

      • Rupert in Springfield

        Well, let’s look at you complains?

        The strip bar induced speeding you speak of – Um, does anyone here think that law enforcement tends to be loath to issue speeding tickets? Anyone???? Show of hand? OK  great, you in the back?…….no? just scratching your nose? ok ……..Yep, so this is BS, Law enforcement does tend to enforce speeding laws.


        Oh yeah, your teen daughter and the lap dance propositions. Could you post a police report of this incident? Redact any personal information of course, but could we please see the police reports indicating this rampant teen lap dancing proposin’ going on? Because frankly I think you are lying.

        What other laws are you claiming strip clubs get a pass on that other business have to follow?

        Could we have a list of those? Because frankly if being a strip club gets you out of following a whole bunch’a laws, I have a feeling a lot of businesses  will be simply hanging a strip club sign over their bait shop or restaurant so they get all those passes from regulation you claim exist.

  • 3H

    “Freedom of expression is a valid concern, but everyone’s freedoms need to be balanced, especially when driven by profits.”
    The books and newspapers published by companies like Random House deserve less first amendment protection because the companies that print them do so for a profit?

    “This is the case in regards to Oregon’s adult club industry with owners chanting the “freedom of expression” mantra as an excuse to violate codes followed by every other business in the state.”

    This is untrue – as long as the codes are enforced fairly and do not single out a business because of their speech, they can be enforced.  Codes can be written that can be enforced on ALL business – not just codes that narrowly target businesses that offend the moral sensibilities of one group.

    OK.. i just can’t let this one go..  “… having sex in illegally parked vehicles…”   Would sex in legally parked cars be better?

  • Mike

    Let me reword for a second I am sure this group is full of bible thumpers who hate any group who thinks a naked body might be worth looking at but they are smart enough to know they will fail by attacking this business that way. So they found another way in. Most of the complaints are against the customers not the club. Do we blame hooka bars because they attract smelly hippies or do we just move on. If there is a problem with litter then the neighborhood should organize a clean up and if the participants all want to wear matching shirts that say “this litter brought to you by xxx club” them so be it.

  • Gullyborg

    If a drunken disorderly person wanders into my house, he will receive multiple loads of 12 ga buckshot.

    Problem solved.  No new laws needed.

    • Founding Fathers

      How Christian of you.

      Yes, there are instances where deadly force are needed, but your little scenario doesn’t seem to fit the bill. It may be legal, but that doesn’t mean it’s right.

      • Gullyborg

        I think a strange drunk person in my home is a potentially life-threatening situation and if you don’t like the results, don’t get drunk and wander into my house.  When the stranger is inside, he could be just a stupid drunk in the wrong place at the wrong time – or he could be a homicidal maniac planning on slitting my throat and raping my wife.  There is no second chance if I fail to respond with full force.

        • Founding Fathers

          Yes, he may be a homicidal maniac. The problem is assuming that they all are.

          What if it’s someone who is disoriented because of diabetic shock? I bet you’ll feel just wonderful then. Remember, sometimes the symptoms of diabetic shock can mimic the symptoms of drunkenness.

          Rather than assume that any intruder is a threat, how about you actually engage your mind and assess the actual threat involved? 

  • Gullyborg

    Also, as the Oregon Supreme Court has already ruled that live sex acts are a type of constitutionally protected free speech of the sort envisioned by the framers, this will lose in court.  And, the court that ruled as such was LESS liberal than the court today.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    >Problems like asking neighbors’ teenage daughters for lap dances, speeding through neighborhoods, parking illegally and having sex in illegally

    This is tired BS.

    Look, I can guarantee you – when that strip bar opened down the street, you were motivated to close it by antagonism to the business from the outset. I highly doubt that you, or members of your group held off judgment of the business until lap dance propositions of teen daughters ensued.

    Do you know how I know this? Because there have been endless studies done, cited in endless cases, and cataloged by endless groups such as the CSF on this exact myth. Strip bars are notorious for attracting less violence and less police calls to the bars than regular bars or any other business.

    Cars speeding? This is asinine. What possibly logical basis could there be to believe the establishment of a strip club causes an urge in drivers in the vicinity to drag race?

    Look – What this comes down to is you don’t want the business near you because it is tacky. That’s it and we all know it. Stip clubs tend to be unattractive in their exterior and a lot of people have a bias against them so you feel they will bring the neighborhood down.

    I’ve got news for you, there are a lot worse businesses to have near you.

    You think Nordstroms is going to move into the slot if the strip club moves out? Guess again honey, it will more likely be a muffler shop or a salvage yard. Id way rather live near a strip club than hear a muffler shop air hammer going all day.

    How about a McDonalds? You want to smell that all day?

    Don’t like that? You seem to think profit is an ugly word, so how about a non profit? How about I move in a plasma clinic, or a feed the homeless soup kitchen? No profit there. Your teen daughter will be safe from lap dance propositions, although she will have to watch out for people throwing up on her.

    So give it a rest – I really hate it when people who claim to be for less government then want government to get all “Some government regulation is necessary to balance profit motives with societal standards of fairness”. There is no “societal standard of fairness” being infringed by a strip club moving in. How is it unfair? How does the term “fairness” even apply to your desire to regulate a business you find distasteful?

    This is BS – If you are for less government, if you feel less of a need for government to tell you what to do in every aspect of life, then please be intellectually honest. This sort of thing has no place here.

  • HoboJoe

    I must say, these people are just trying to make it in today’s rough and tumble world.
    Let’s back off a bit and let them live to their fullest.

  • First off, all of the problems you listed are already illegal and can be covered under current law. Residents who are adversely affected can seek appeasement through the current legal system. Enacting a ban or increasing regulations of adult entertainment will, at best, solve these problems by creating new ones.

    Second, you say that you want to hold adult entertainment to the same standards as other businesses must comply with, but, intuitively, I don’t think that you could hold adults only establishments to the same standards as, say, a bakery. Do you? Why should all businesses be held to the same standards?

    Third, you say that you’re not motivated by moral concerns, but then you go to say government regulation is necessary to regulate “profit motives.” Does that not have a tinge of morality behind it? Then you go on to decry profits at the expense of workers and the neighborhood. Does that also not have a tinge of morality? You decry “freedom” when someone’s sole motivation is profit-driven, and that it’s somehow disingenuous. Yet, freedom allows people to pursue profits, regardless of motivation, as long as he doesn’t violate the rights of others. If it is true that there are large-scale property rights violations, then people already have a sufficient legal mechanism to seek justice, and increasing government intervention won’t help.

    You’re right in that we don’t live in a “theoretical world” as there are real consequences to actions. You should consider the unintended consequences of resorting to increased government coercion over allowing people to resolve these issues themselves or through the current legal system.

  • toughcookie

    Easy to see the predominance of replies are from males shrugging off the behavior of, primarily, other males. Pretty comical actually.

    • Anonymous

      Pathetic males with very low moral standards.

      • toughcookie

        You were able to discern a moral standard? 

        • toughcookie

          Which is to say you done better than moi.

  • JimInTualatin

    Good Job Lisa – we enjoyed your discussions the other night and the many, many infractions that you listed, as well as your frustration with getting the OLCC and various agencies to enforce laws that the rest of us must obey.

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